Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Work of Prayer

I am in the process of doing an in-depth look at the book of Colossians. For the past week I have read
through the entire book each day.

There are a number of passages that have stood out to me as I have done this, but there is one in particular that keeps grabbing my attention.

It is one of those passages that is easy to miss because it is at the end of the book in the section of greetings that we tend to just skim rather than read.

The passage I am refering to is Colossians 4:12-13. This is what Paul wrote:
 "Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God. I can assure you that he prays hard for you and also for the believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis" (NLT).
Here is the question that I have pondered because of this passage: How hard do I pray for people?

I can pray desperately for myself and the circumstances that I am facing. I can pray for my family and the circumstances of their lives. Yet, when it comes to other people, I fear I am rather indifferent to the needs of their lives.

As I think about discipleship and spiritual formation, I have to wonder if one of the obstacles that I face (and I have to believe others face as well) is a lack of praying hard. Is it possible that our church families are not maturing and are not growing because we have not committed to praying for growth?  Perhaps the reason the people in our lives struggle with broken hearts, depression, and addictions is because we are not praying for them?

Now, I don't want to make it sound that all we have to do pray and then magically everything will be better. Through the Bible God calls us to get off the couch and love our neighbors.Yet, the effort has to be grounded in prayer.

I confess that the reason this passage has been running through my mind is because God is calling me to do this work of prayer. It is something I keep putting off because I have other things to do: sermons to write, a church family to lead, and children to raise. Yet, aren't these the very reasons I should be spending more time in the work of prayer?

One of the realities about prayer is that it sounds very easy to do, but it is extremely difficult. Satan and his demonic horde will do everything in their power to keep us from praying effectively. No wonder Paul wrote that Epaphras prayed hard for the Colossians. It wasn't easy! It may not have been easy, but Epraphras committed himself to pray for the people of his hometown church.

I urge you to commit yourself to being a person of prayer. We all have people in our lives who desperately need our prayers, and if we don't pray for them who will? 

Join me in making a commitment that when a person pops into our minds, that we will stop what you are doing and pray for them. By doing this we are not not only inviting God to be part of the situation, but we are also doing our Christian duty of loving one another.

I think that we need recapture the idea of the work of prayer. Through prayer we can work for the Kingdom of God in this world. It won't be the easiest thing we have ever done, but it has the potential of being one of the best.

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